A lot of really great responses here. I generally agree with most of what people have said. I try to keep an open mind to all player feedback, but have some very clear lines I draw. If I can accommodate players with little cost I'll gladly do it. But I won't undermine my own design goals in the process. Clarity is the key to feedback for me, the better I can understand where people are coming from the more I can hone in on a potential solution. I'm not a mind reader so if someone is displeased with one of my quests but can't say why, there's nothing I can do to help them. Feedback in the form of suggestions can be rather hit or miss. Sometimes it's spot on, but like Mani Kanina and others have said, often times non-designers really don't know what they're talking about. The absolute best feedback you can receive is detailed, clearly written, informed, and fits with the creator's design.
When it comes to giving feedback myself, I'm a bit torn between the reviewer and critic sides. A lot of the time players will not actually look at reviews when picking out a quest so the one who stands to gain the most from it is the designer. But then it can also seem rude and demanding to be talking at the questmaker directly. I usually end up with a somewhat confused middle ground. I've been drifting away from using a score based system since it's often reductive, boiling something very objective down to a more rigid measurement. It's important for things like database sorting, but it's also easy to take it way more seriously than it deserves. I think the reason I write reviews is just to get my thoughts at the moment written down somewhere. That somewhere doesn't necessarily have to be public, but a short reply, a liked comment, or maybe even a more detailed and thought out response, these things are nice. Means someone saw some kind of value in what I had to say.
The most reasonable accommodations are always low effort, low impact things. Small bugfixes are a great example. Few people want a buggy game, so the developer and player share a common interest there usually. It's pretty much a no brainer to fix them if there's time. Next would be small editor tweaks like adding a shortcut, presuming it doesn't interfere with the game's intent. The further reaching the change goes and the more the developer has to bend over backwards, the less reasonable it becomes. By the time it gets to the point of "make your whole game easier/harder so I can enjoy it," well...Don't be surprised if you get a half baked compromise of a system.
Also, this entire matter is somewhat ironic considering moosh (the author of this thread) made a huge update and restructuring of their quest based on my critique of it. As should be clear by my views expressed so far, I don't think that was necessarily a good thing.
This was actually something in the back of my brain while writing the topic. Ultimately I'm happy with everything added in that update and I do think it was the right call, but it did have some unintended side effects due to the age of the quest. The new content casts the old in a different light, making the quest seem more polished the deeper you go in instead of the consistent level of jank it used to have. And a few criticisms in the original review weren't actually even addressed. I mostly used it as a catalyst to go off doing my own thing taking a few of the more notable points and running with them.
However, if you look to games where players are paying money for the game it could then be argued that they are "the boss". Not any single player holds this "boss" status but as a collective, the playerbase is able to influence the quest-maker's final say because as a collective, the playerbase can stop funding the game and this would spell disaster for any commercial game. Therefore in that instance, the playerbase is "the boss" and is able to bark orders that a developer is more or less compelled to follow.
Technically this can still happen with fangames to a degree. It's just more subtle because there's less of a noticeable measure of how well a game "sells" and the success of the game has no impact on the designer's livelihood. But most of us still do want our target audiences to actually play what we make and that implies designing something they'd want to play, giving them a small degree of "boss"-ness. Of course what we do is so niche to begin with you can pick and choose and almost always find an audience of some size.
Edited by Moosh, 31 July 2020 - 11:32 PM.